A week of magic

Youth in Landscapes workshop - Day 2 Picture credit: Youth In Landscapes initiative

Youth in Landscapes workshop – Day 2, Picture credit: Youth In Landscapes initiative

For me, the Youth In Landscapes Initiative was a week of magic.  It was inspiring in a professional and personal way. It taught me things and it made me feel useful. I would like to dedicate this post to the Youth in Landscapes community to thank everyone. I would like to thank the whole steering and organizing committee; Hannah and Gabi in particular, who led the workshop with enthusiasm and passion. It is inspiring to meet such a driven group of young people, who all put their intention and scarce time into making such a great event together.

There are many things I learnt in the four days, but two things really stuck with me.

  • First, the active listening workshop. In every single conversation I have now, I take special care to listen with all my intention and open mind, without formulating an idea and spitting it out halfway someone else’s sentence. I have never been conscious of how hard it is to listen well and by looking around, I realize now how many people have difficulty listening to each other.
  • Second, the brain needs breaks! Between workshops and thinking sessions, we did silly, useful or useless but in either case funny 2-3 minute brain breaks. Of course that is more fun in a group, but I try to implement taking a break every now and then or at least to take a small walk or get my mind off my work more often. It increases my productivity significantly and makes me more conscious of time.

These are small things but they improve the quality of my work and my personal life. The workshop in this way reminded me that we always have more room to improve ourselves.

I would of course also really like to thank my group, the Finance and Trade landscapes challenge team, namely Alpha, Arman, Caroline, Daphne, Guillermo, Jesse, Meghan, Renata and Thuy! Although we did not know each other and came from very diverse places, from Kenya to Iran – from Peru to Canada, I feel like by the end of the week, we were a real team.

I felt lucky to work on the theme of climate resilience and market access of smallholder farmers with actual smallholder farmers and people who were close to them. Although we had the occasion to attend discussion panels about farming after the four day workshop at the Global Landscapes Forum, by that time the experts did not say much that was new to me  because I learnt from the best: the people in the field. I am grateful to the whole team for their respect and hard work we put up together, but especially for the great laughs.

I am sure we will meet somewhere in the future, whether that is on the next Youth in Landscape Initiative, while passing through each other’s countries or who knows while working together on a landscape project in the future. In either case I am taking the skills, knowledge and great memories I gained back with me and spread around the happiness that this experience has given me.

Fanny Olsthoorn is one of the 10 young champions who worked on the “Finance and Trade” Landscape challenge with Youth program’s partner: Livelihoods Venture

Learn more about the Global Landscapes Forum , meet our 50 youth champions, discover the 5 Landscapes challenges they took up and the solutions they developed and pitched at the Dragon’s Den on 6th December 2015, in Paris.